I think most of us expected something other than what the Revised Common Lectionary offers us for Lent IV (March 22). Here is an insightful sermon (for those who are still struggling with the propers...even in England!) It comes from a true FB friend of mine.
"I guess one could say this: Jesus is trying to make sense of his own impending death, which he didn't really understand and neither did anyone else. And we can't make sense of death. Why did Natasha Richardson die this week from a fall on the bunny slopes? Why did the son or brother or sister of someone we know have to die in the Middle East this week? Why did a teenager die in a car accident? Ever since Biblical times we've been trying to make sense of that which makes no sense. The one thing we can see through all today's readings is that God is with us in the good times and bad, the things we understand and the things we don't. God was with us when our homes were appreciating at 20 percent a year, and he's with us now as we all throw rocks at AIG and curse the darkness. The Valley of the Shadow of Death is a regular stop on our walk in faith. God offers ways to make sense of it: Look on a serpent on a pole and live, even while evil is all around you. Look at a savior on a pole and live, ditto. It's about trusting that God walks with us and is never far away and is always -- always! -- looking out for us, wanting to be in love with us, desiring our companionship and faithfulness. God is holding up God's end of the bargain and invites us to do the same.
There's a lovely poem by Denise Levertov:
As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them;
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them;
so would I learn to attain
free fall and float
into Creator Spirit's deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace."
Btw, don't forget to have a blessing ready for the simnel cakes that may appear.